AU editors: We disagree with Mat. “Sexy” doesn’t necessarily have to mean “sex”. We use the term generically to describe something we like a lot. What do you guys think?
“Sexy.” You see it applied to non-human objects all the time, but especially electronics. And the thing is, those writing it almost never mean it. When a writer unleashes “sexy”, more often than not what is meant is “desirable”. And because sexual desire is something that almost all adults can understand, it’s commonly applied. Easy!
Yet what once may have been original is at this point just a horrible cliché. It’s a crutch too frequently applied, even by the biggest names in the business. And I doubt that it is ever meant sincerely.
Walt Mossberg! Please explain to me exactly how you intend to use this Dell touchscreen in a sexually stimulating way! David Pogue! Where, exactly, did you put your penis in this Macbook Air? Joshua Topolsky! I know it is much significantly that the original, but, I am genuinely flummoxed, how in the world did you fit an iPad2 in your arse?
Now look, gadgets can have certain attributes that might be considered legitimately sexy by some — for example you may find yourself taking intentional wrong turns, again and again, all around your neighbourhood late at night, listening to the disembodied voice from your GPS telling you to turn right, turn left, go straight, you naughty thing, you — but these tend to be human attributes. It could be a voice, an avatar, perhaps even a texture.
Or maybe you are writing about the Fleshlight, or some other sexual stimulation device. You can call that sexy, go right ahead! I might personally feel a little sad for you, but you are using the word correctly.
Or maybe you actually do want to get it on with your iPhone. Maybe you really do find vapourware coffeemakers sexually stimulating. That’s fine! No judgement from me. Rule 34 and all that. But make it clear. Let your readers know that you plan to make sweet, sweet love to that all-in-one printer.
Otherwise it’s just bad writing. It’s lazy. It means you don’t give a damn about your audience. It means you don’t care enough to try and use a real descriptor. It means you can’t be bothered to come up with an actual description of what you like about something, so you’re just going to call it sexy.
While this post is directed at writers, we need help from readers in order to make this happen. So to you, dear reader, I exhort you: The next time you see a professional writer refer to an inanimate object full of circuitry and cadmium as “sexy”, please inquire as to whether said writer does in fact find it to be arousing.
Yes, OK! We have done it on this very site. Mea culpas! Change must start at home, so we’re ending the practice now. You’ll not see it used here improperly again. We challenge the rest of our community to also stop using the word sexy to describe gadgets unless you intend to f**k them.
And if that is what you mean, please post pictures.